Thursday, August 31, 2006

Whacks On, Whacks Off

Tonight, I saw the Andy Sidaris film "Do or Die" for the first time. Jesus Christ. I'm no stranger to Andy Sidaris' work (if you can call filming Playmates having sex with Erik Estrada in every possible situation after fighting ninjas "work"), having seen about six of his films. But "Do or Die" goes places where films like "Savage Beach" were afraid to go. Namely, "Do or Die" (which was shot in Shreveport on Caddo Lake) almost completely does away with any sort of plotline whatsoever, and melts down into a complete orgy of massive guns, recycled helicopter explosion footage, Erik Estrada-fucking, poor marksmanship and eternally hard nipples. In the course of an hour and a half, it overpowered my id completely. My id felt dirty, weak, and exhausted. My id watched the credits roll, shrugged its shoulders, and said "I got nothin' left. That was pretty much all I ever wanted to see."

I'm going to try and narrow this list down to seven or eight items, but really, there are so many amazing, brain-melting reasons to see this movie. I will have clips up soon, I promise.

By the way, I got a box set containing three Sidaris films at Best Buy for $12. And sure, they're all the same movie, but they're all the same BRAIN-MELTING MOVIE.


1. Pat Morita, also known as Mr. Miagi from "The Karate Kid," gets a hand-job in this movie. While romantic music plays. With a soft focus lens. THE FILMMAKERS THOUGHT THIS WAS SEXY.

2. There's a scene where ninjas climb up in some trees by Caddo Lake, in the dead of winter, to hide. Think about this. Trees. Caddo Lake. The dead of winter. There are, of course, no leaves in the trees. But still, our heroes don't see the ninjas. Maybe they couldn't see over their breasts.

3. The breasts, by the way, have completely taken on an almost satirical quality in this film. An actress named Pandora Peaks plays the part of a new secret agent who has eternally-hard nipples. Her 72-inch chest makes it hard to do secret agent things like run up hillsides, roll while shooting a Mack 10, etc. But she finds plenty of time to smoke Marlboro reds in the hottub.

4. Among other scenes that the filmmakers failed to realize were actually incredibly boring to watch is a prolonged scene involving remote control airplanes. Wedged in between a scene of Erik Estrada blowing up a dune buggy with a rocket launcher and Erik Estrada putting his "Little Rico" on some poor lady (he actually refers to his penis as "Little Rico" throughout the film, in a few moments that are daringly close to "acting"), there's this seven-minute interlude at a remote control airshow. Every Sidaris movie has one of these music video-like sections of people doing "exciting" things (riding dirtbikes over hills, riding in a racecar around a track going at least 40 MILES PER HOUR, etc.) but this of very old men pushing joysticks around and staring up at the sky with their mouths open. It's like "Vernon, Florida" for a few sweet, sweet moments.

5. In a turn that will startle even the most jaded b-movie fan, the characters actually get one another's names mixed up several times throughout the film. The character played by Pandora Peaks is alternately referred to as "Atlanta" and "Atlantis."

6. My God, look at some of these peoples' IMDB pages:

7. Pandora Peaks.

8. Ava Cadell ("Lunch Box"?, "The Hound of the Baskervilles"?)

9. Bruce Penhall ("Camping del Terrore"?)

Seriously, run, don't walk. Better yet, roll down a hill while firing a Mack 10 at ill-concealed ninjas, land in front of your DVD player and get ready for the "Little Rico."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Jean Seberg

"Bonjour Tristesse" is a beautiful, if melodramatic, film from Otto Preminger, 1958, starring the incredible Jean Seberg ("Breathless") as a sort of female James Dean - angsty, constantly pacing, constantly creating trouble for any adults who dare interfere with her lying around and doing whatever she pleases. The film is a moral tale that reminded me of "Pauline at the Beach" by Eric Rohmer, maybe just because of the beachside setting, or maybe because of the creepy, completely inappropriate relationships shared between teenage girls and older men in both films.

In general, people seem to hate the film (it's rated 6.4 on IMDB), but I loved it for a few simple reasons:

1) A cautionary tale of alcoholism, casual sex, and hedonistic pursuits among the upper-classes, it may as well be called "Bonjour Gatsby." And anything that involves the alcohol-soaked demise of wealthy people is - how do you say? - "My shit."

2) Two words: Jean Seberg. Look at this amazing haircut. *Paws at computer screen, roaring like tiger*

3) Technicolor has never been more beautiful. And this is coming from a Douglas Sirk fan. In fact, if you like Douglas Sirk, run (don't walk) to your Netflix account and qeue this shit up. Better yet, get totally drunk and drive your car off of the nearest seaside cliff, and LAND in your Netflix qeue.


You kids like the Ramones?

Of all the poignant, hilarious, fierce little moments in Larry Clark's "Wassup Rockers," my favorite comes when the gang of Latino skaters who collectively function as the film's protagonist are pulled over by bicycle cops while driving an adult friend's unregistered, dilapidated car through Beverly Hills. The cop approaches the car and, in a moment that sidesteps the "Hardened, racist Los Angeles cop" cliche (a cliche that the film later employs), he asks:

"You kids like the Ramones, huh?"
"Yeah, I saw them live in '84."
(Awkward pause)
"How were they?"
"They rocked."

Then the cop tells them he's got to impound the car. I laughed out loud, because I know exactly that stinging pain that the skater kid must have felt: "How the fuck can YOU, being so different from me in every way, care so deeply about this thing that I love so much that I have fashioned my identity around it?" It's probably a familiar feeling to anyone who has ever felt like their chosen subculture was becoming a bit of a whore.

Bill Hicks once said that he laughed hardest at something not when it was outright funny, but when he recognized painful truth in it. "Wassup Rockers" is full of moments like the cop name-dropping The Ramones. There's a Beverly Hills fashionista party where a gay photographer, his hair braided into corn-rows, is fascinated by the "ghetto look" of the skaters, who crash the party accidentally while escaping the police. Their ghetto look isn't a look: They're from South Central L.A. There are repeated instances of depravity and perversion directed towards the boys from members of the wealthy elite and artists, who by turns want to fuck, kill, portray, commodify, and imprison the boys.

The skater kids in "Wassup Rockers" are non-actors, a real-life group of friends that Larry Clark met and (from what I understand) hung out with for years in the process of making this film, the shooting of which was on-again/off-again due to lack of funds. Their friendship is absolutely the realest shit I have seen on-screen in ages - you can tell that they have dveloped a familial, brotherly bond through countless hours of skating together, sharing forties, talking about fucking, and skating some more.

I kept thinking of the film "Stand by Me" while watching "Wassup Rockers." Where "Stand by Me" is nostalgiac, saccharine, caucasian and escapist, "Rockers" is bleak and satirical. The small-town anglos of "Stand by Me" make a journey to see a dead body because they want to, while the rockers just want to go skating, but they're more than likely going to encounter a dead body just getting around their neighborhood.

Anyone interested in issues like race relations in a so-called "melting-pot" culture, the commercialization of dissent, neighborhood gentrification, etc. should see this movie. On the other hand, the movie is a fuckload of fun, especially if you happen to like genuine punk rock music and great cinematography. Unlike Clark's "Kids," "Rockers" uses the innocence of childhood as a foil for the fucked-up state of the world, instead of painting an unbearably bleak and joyless picture of childhood. Despite some stunningly violent moments that sent a palpable shock through the audience, the film is still a great deal of fun. Please see it if at all possible.

(NOTE: This being my first post, I should say that I only keep this movie diary to record my thoughts and feelings about films. In doing so, I don't mean to imply that my opinion matters more than anyone else's, or has any sort of professional or literary value. Having just moved my girlfriend of 3 1/2 years into her new home 1,200 miles from where I live, I needed a hobby. So here we are. I hope you'll check back frequently, as I promise at least two new film reviews per week.)